Circle of One

Not only do Solitary Pagans have to deal with a different assortment of challenges than other Pagans, we also have to take different approaches to Community and Unity. Understanding who we are as Solitaries is critical if we are to be equal partners in the Greater Pagan Community.

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Carl Neal

Carl Neal

Carl Neal has walked a Pagan path for 30 years. He is a self-avowed incense fanatic and has published 2 books through Llewellyn Worldwide on the topic. For many years (and even occasionally these days) he was a vendor of altar tools and supplies which led him to write The Magick Toolbox for Red Wheel/Weiser. Carl has been a dedicated “Solitary By Choice” for more than 20 years but remains an advocate of Pagan Unity. He has been deeply involved in Pagan Community building for a considerable amount of his time on this path and remains dedicated to this ideal today. In addition to writing books, blogs, and articles, Carl teaches workshops on a variety of topics up and down the Pacific Coast and is the producer of the “Magick Moment” Public Access television series in Oregon (also available streaming on You Tube). He hopes to empower his fellow Solitary Pagans to live the fullest magickal lives they can. www.PaganTV.org www.youtube.com/user/PentOclockNews

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

I have spent decades talking to Pagans about the perceived “culture of poverty” within the Pagan Community.  That is the belief that “I can’t afford that and I never will be able to” or “I can’t go to that festival for $70, even though they will feed and house me for 3 days.”  I have spent the last year telling anyone and everyone who will listen that the Pagan Community needs a professional media corps.  If you’d like to see some of my arguments for why, check our website – www.PaganTV.org. 

I realized something a few weeks ago.  Pick the euphemism you prefer – “put your money where your mouth is”, “put up or shut up”, or “if you talk the talk you need to walk the walk.”  It is true that I spend a fair amount of money every year attending various Pagan events and festivals.  Like many of us, I also buy plenty of Pagan goodies from incense to altar tools to books, books, and more books.  All of those activities are good for our Community economy but really aren’t enough to help us get to where we need to go.

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  • Terence P Ward
    Terence P Ward says #
    Well said.

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

It’s a sad fact that there are a few Pagans among us who have to hide their beliefs because it could cause them to lose a job or they feel their religion might be used against them in a custody battle, or an assortment of other legitimate reasons.  Before the explosion of Paganism into the public realm in the 1980s this wasn’t really an issue because most covens were kept secret and there was little public information about Paganism or Witchcraft.  Since that time, the term “broom closet” (borrowed from the LGBT community’s term) has grown in use.  It contrasts those of us who do not hide our Pagan beliefs (“out of the broom closet”) versus those who do (still “in the broom closet”).  As more and more of us stopped hiding our beliefs (which is not at all the same as advertising them), this term became more and more common.

As a Community, we have been very respectful of those who are “in the broom closet”.  We ban cameras at events, we hold events that are closed to the public, and often go so far as to keep secret the location of events, even from participants, until the last moment.  Much of this is a holdover from the days when Paganism was hidden.  It is also a legacy of basic practices of many covens, so it shouldn’t surprise anyone that we have simply incorporated this idea of “hiding in plain sight” into almost everything we do in some Communities.  I think it’s time for a new dialog around this issue.

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  • Carl Neal
    Carl Neal says #
    Thanks for the comment Taylor. If I wasn't out of the broom closet before, I certainly "outted" myself when my first book came ou
  • Taylor Ellwood
    Taylor Ellwood says #
    I've been out of the broom closet for a long time and haven't suffered adverse effects. As you say most people don't care and if t

I have always viewed the Solitary (Solitary By Choice) as one who walks alone on her spiritual path, not one isolated from other Pagans. I have known many who, while not walking my path, walked paths parallel to mine for a time. There are others who are walking very different paths but with whom I still enjoy a deep, powerful magickal relationship. There is another category that is often called “Solitary” and, while they face many of the same issues as the Solitary By Choice, they also have their own unique set of challenges. These are the folks who are looking for a coven or other formal group or tradition, but have not yet found their home. We do have a lot of the same challenges and I include them when I talk about Solitaries as much as I possibly can. I am neither proud nor ashamed of the fact that I am Solitary BY Choice – it is simply the path that has called me. I do not think that formal training with a coven is less or more legitimate than the Solitary path – they are just different ways to reach truth.

Those of us who choose a Solitary path can be a difficult group with which to work. When we speak of the trouble in organizing Pagans as “herding cats” it’s never truer than when dealing with the dedicated Solitary. Many of us are proud of our independence and may stubbornly cling to it beyond the bounds of logic. Those who are forced to be Solitary by geography (or other factors) may not always possess the same type of fierce independence. They may be seeking out the companionship, guidance, and structure of a coven or group – things studiously avoided by some who are Solitary By Choice.

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  • Cea Noyes
    Cea Noyes says #
    Thanks Carl. Nicely put. I've been practicing on my own since 1978 and by my own choice. Of course, back then it was difficult
  • Carl Neal
    Carl Neal says #
    That is indeed a huge problem faced by many Solitaries and one that will be the topic of more than one blog in the future! The pe
  • Christopher Blackwell
    Christopher Blackwell says #
    I understand exactly what you mean. I am a solitary but that does not stop me from taking part in the wider community. I am edit
  • Carl Neal
    Carl Neal says #
    Christopher, that is nothing short of awesome! This is precisely what I was talking about. I don't care if you are living on the
  • Christopher Blackwell
    Christopher Blackwell says #
    Wish I was near by, rather fond of the old Winchester House. My Partner lived in the Berkeley Hills and remembers as a kid all tha

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